Alumni Questionnaire ← Back to Index
Dean L. Mossburg:
What is your name?
Dean L. Mossburg
To which institutions were you sent?
All 3 and in this order
How old were you?
I was 15 when I entered the program and almost 18 when I left.
When were you enrolled in The Program?
I was sent to the DR in March of 1977 and left April 1978. Entered Marion April, 1978 and spent 2 summers in Canada. Left Marion in May of 1980. I was home for 3 months from January 79 till March 79.
What was the highest level you attained?
5th level in Marion. At the time, there was not a point or level system in the DR. Cannot remember the level in Canada, maybe 5th?
Please describe the circumstances that got you sent to The Program:
All of the above. At the time, I was a very angry and confused adolescent. Don't get me wrong, I needed help. I was no angel. I cannot blame my parents for sending me there, but I don't think they realized the ‘true’ reality of the program.
In which house(s) did you live?
In the DR, I spent my time in the La Vega house. This was before the current campus was built. In Marion, I lived in the house that was located off Pennsylvania Ave. Again, this was the only house at the time and before they purchased the old school. In Canada, I donít think our dorm had a name. When I was there, only 2 buildings-the bunk house and the lodge existed.
Please describe instances of abuse you experienced while in the program, if any:
I remember being thrown against a wall on several occasions. I also remember the attitude sessions were you were forced to perform repeated push-ups and squat-thrusts.
Describe abuse of other students you witnessed, if any:
Where do I start? The instances of abuse I witnessed occurred mostly in Marion and Canada. If a student was misbehaving for an extended period they were forced into a boxing match. This is where a student would have to ‘box’ each member of his peer group, one at a time. The match usually ended when the student was beaten into a bloody pulp and the staff members deemed they have had enough.
I remember that we had students that were wards of the state. Sometimes when these students needed medical care they had to wait for the money to come from their various state agencies. It did not matter if the student was suffering; they had to wait for the money to come before any type of treatment would be administered. These were not instances of abuse, rather instances of neglect.
I also remember when we had endurance swims in Canada. A student might be struggling in the water and they would attempt to catch their breath by holding onto the sides of a canoe. A staff member would slam a canoe paddle on to their hands to get them to let go of the canoe.
Do you have any good memories of The Program? If so, what are they?
The DR was a beautiful country and the people were nice. To be able to experience how other people live there lives in a developing country made me appreciate what we have in the United States. Some of the staff members were truly caring, but this was generally not the norm.
What is your overall impression of The Program? Did it “help you”?
It helped me in the sense that it removed me from negative influences that were surrounding my life at the time.
What do you think of the quality of education you received?
Sub-standard. We took correspondence courses and had very little teacher/student interaction. We were basically on our own when it came to school work.
How old are you today?
44 years young
Did you go to college after attending The Program? If so, what degrees do you have?
(A.S) 2004. I am currently working on my B.S and hope to graduate soon.
What is your profession?
I currently employed with our local electric utility.
Do you consider yourself a Christian today?
Yes, but I have a deep distrust of any type of organized religion. I have seen too many instances of people abusing power once they have been put into positions of power.
What effect did “The Program” have on your faith?
It made me distrust those in positions of power. I feel that someone can have close relationship with their God, without having to go to a church.
Please feel free to add comments here:
I feel that Pastor Blossom's original intentions were good. He himself was abused while he was a student at Starr Commonwealth and I think he wanted to give teenagers a path to a better life, but the money that comes in and the issues of power have replaced any good intentions.
I feel that he, and those around him, allowed the power that they had over teenagers to go to their heads. The staff members had little or no training and they became abusive because of it. Abuse breeds abuse.